South Korean shares closed lower Friday as an overnight drop in U.S. stocks prodded investors here to turn away from risky assets, with the Korean won extending its gain versus the U.S. dollar, analysts said. The local currency closed at a near six-year high.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index dropped 11.17 points, or 0.56 percent, to 1,997.44. Trading volume was light at 205 million shares worth 3.42 trillion won ($3.3 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 447 to 342.
The index opened sharply lower, falling to as low as 1,985.16 points on news that U.S. stocks nosedived Thursday on a sell-off of technology and biotech issues. The tech-heavy Nasdaq index plummeted more than 3 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 1.62 percent.
But entering the afternoon session, the KOSPI pared its earlier losses on gains in some market heavyweights such as POSCO and Kia Motors.
Foreign investors extended their buying binge to 13 sessions in a row. On Thursday, buying by offshore investors sent the index up, helping it surpass the psychologically-important 2,000-point level for the first time in more than four months. Foreigners had net-purchased local stocks with their buying reaching a net 2.8 trillion won during the period.
“Taking a cue from the U.S. stock market, investors dumped shares, techs and shipbuilders in particular,” said Kwak Hyun-soo, an analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp. “Investors were also tempted to lock in gains seen in the past few days.”
Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest maker of smartphones, shed 1.09 percent to close at 1,365,000 won, and chipmaker SK hynix lost 1.72 percent to finish at 37,050 won.
Autos and shipbuilders also remained in negative terrain. Industry leader Hyundai Motor fell 0.21 percent to end at 242,000 won, while auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis dropped 1.79 percent to end at 301,000 won. The world’s largest shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries also declined 1.37 percent to end at 216,000 won.
In contrast, top steelmaker POSCO advanced 0.32 percent to end at 313,000 won, and No. 2 automaker Kia Motors gained 1.37 percent to close at 59,400 won.
LG Electronics, a smartphone and home appliance maker, rose 0.58 percent to end at 69,300 won.
The local currency continued to gather ground against the U.S. dollar, closing at 1,035.05, up 5.15 won from Thursday, after rising as high as 1,031.40 won at one point. (Yonhap)